Your school has a legal duty towards children with disfigurements

Disability and Equality Legislation and your school

The Equality Act 2010 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission require schools, colleges and early years settings to make reasonable adjustments in order to ensure that a child or young person who has a disfigurement is not disadvantaged.

For other disabilities, reasonable adjustments may take the form of additional or alternative provision, such as ramps for a mobility-impaired pupil or IT programmes to provide visual text for a hearing-impaired pupil.

When a pupil has a disfigurement, however, their disability derives mainly from other people’s responses (staring, curiosity, avoidance, hostility, negative expectations) which can make it difficult for them to lead a normal life. Therefore the reasonable adjustment must address the way staff and pupils respond to and relate to the child or young person who has a disfigurement.

The equality duty is anticipatory which means staff and pupils need to be prepared in advance. Of course, they may also need to address difficulties as they arise.

To enable your pupil to achieve both socially and academically at school, you and your colleagues will need to consider the following:

  • All staff members need a basic understanding of the main psychological and social issues that arise for everyone when someone has a disfigurement.
  • Anticipate the curiosity and the questions that children or young people will experience and prepare responses which will be socially positive for everyone.
  • Carefully monitor social interactions and create opportunities to practice social skills, including positive responses to other people’s reactions to their disfigurement.
  • Develop effective interventions to discourage teasing, ostracism and bullying.
  • Identify signs of low self-esteem and build good self-esteem.
  • Work closely with parents and other professionals to ensure good care, support and positive transitions.
  • Ensure learning activities and resources enable all children and young people to address appearance anxieties and move beyond stereotypes.